Contemporary Fears of Children and Adolescents: Coping and Resiliency in the 21st Century

By Burnham, Joy J. | Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Contemporary Fears of Children and Adolescents: Coping and Resiliency in the 21st Century


Burnham, Joy J., Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD


With more than a century of research, fears are well documented. Hall (1897) reported such fears as thunderstorms, darkness, death, animals, disease, and ghosts. Nearly 40 years later, Jersild and Holmes (1935b) classified fears as follows: (a) concrete events (e.g., animals, strange people), (b) losses (e.g., failure, health, death), and (c) imaginative fears (e.g., supernatural, darkness, being alone, movies, radio programs). When Hall's and Jersild and Holmes's (1935b) fear research were compared, technological advances (i.e., movies and radio) appeared to influence the content changes that were found. Nevertheless, distinct fear patterns were common (e.g., animals, darkness, death, supernatural) across these two studies and throughout the early 20th century.

Although technological advances prompted new fears in Jersild and Holmes's (1935b) research, the AIDS epidemic caused the fear of AIDS to soar among youth in the 1990s (Burnham, 1995; Gullone, 2000). Similarly, 9/11 instigated the fear of terrorist attacks in 2001 among children and adolescents in the United States (Burnham, 2007). Thus, with fear studies across 3 centuries (19th through the 21st) and data to show that fears can change based on present events, issues, and concerns (e.g., war, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, school shootings), it is imperative that researchers continue to study the fears of children and adolescents. With this in mind, the current study had three aims: (a) to examine contemporary fears of youth (i.e., most common fears) in Grades 2-12, (b) to determine whether a current fear assessment needs to be modified for the 21st century, and (c) to offer challenges for school counselors in the 21st century.

* What Are the Contemporary Fears of the 21st Century?

There are no exhaustive lists of the contemporary fears of today's children, although researchers have attempted to examine contemporary fears through the years (Burnham, 1995, 2005; Muris, Merckelbach, & Collaris, 1997; Muris, Merckelbach, Meesters, & van Lier, 1997; Muris et al., 2002; Owen, 1998; Shore & Rapport, 1998). Adler (1994) concluded that children fear crime, racial tension, poverty, divorce, pollution, overpopulation, world hunger, guns, shootings, gangs, dying, kidnapping, and being home alone. Owen added street drugs, gangs, gunshots, being burned, and drive-by shootings, whereas Gullone and King (1992) confirmed that AIDS was a contemporary fear.

* Causes of Contemporary Fears

On the basis of the literature, the causes of contemporary fears of youth vary; however, many fears have emerged across time because of children's and adolescents' exposure to situations on a frequent basis. The common situations often include (a) global events (e.g., trauma, disasters, war, diseases), (b) television/media exposure, and (c) societal changes.

Global Events

Global events, crises, diseases, and disasters have prompted researchers to study contemporary fears of children and adolescents. For instance, Pratt (1945) looked at the effects of World War II on children. As world powers made nuclear war seemingly imminent in the 20th century, children's concerns about nuclear war were analyzed (Buban, McConnell, & Duncan, 1988; Slee & Cross, 1989; Wallinga, Boyd, Skeen, & Paguio, 1991). After the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, Terr et al. (1999) studied posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, whereas the AIDS epidemic brought attention to AIDS as a fear for children (Gullone, 2000). Similarly, the 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered an influx of studies addressing anxieties and concerns of youth (Pine & Cohen, 2002; Schlenger et al., 2002; Schuster et al., 2001; Squires, 2002; Stuber et al., 2002).

Television and Media Exposure

Media exposure, primarily television, has been another cause of fear among children for decades. In fact, prior to the popularity of television, Jersild and Holmes (1935a) reported fears of "characters met in stories, motion pictures, and radio programs" (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Contemporary Fears of Children and Adolescents: Coping and Resiliency in the 21st Century
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.